10 of the best Bon Jovi songs

I’ve got a lot to thank Bon Jovi for. Back in the day (that’s 1988, kiddies), they were my earliest introduction to the wonderful world of Hair Metal. It’s been quite a ride, and the ‘Jovi sound has mellowed in the intervening years.

So, if you’re a fan of classic Bon Jovi, let’s take a look down memory lane at 10 of their best-known songs:

10: Runaway

Those purists who bought their eponymous debut album will know that Runaway isn’t strictly a [[Bon Jovi (Band)|Bon Jovi]] song – it was recorded by Jon Bon as a solo single and became a local hit. Apparently the album version was re-recorded by the official Bon Jovi lineup when the album was recorded, but the single featured session musicians including Dave “Snake” Sabo (later of Skid Row) and Hugh McDonald (who later replaced Alec John Such on bass).

9: It’s My Life

Another return to form for Bon Jovi after what appeared to be a few years lost in the musical wilderness. It’s My Life was a return to a more classic arena rock sound for the band and even drafted in an appearance from Livin’ On A Prayer’s Tommy and Gina in the lyrics.

Those echoes of classic Bon Jovi struck a chord with fans of the bands earlier work who felt abandoned by their sound in those later years.

8: Dry County

An epic tune from the Keep The Faith album, Dry County clocked in at almost 10 minutes long. It was an ambitious song for the band to attempt, having been known for punchy shorter hit records.

Written by Jon, it paints a picture of a journey through desolate countryside and talks about economic and religious issues along the way. It features several extended instrumental sections which all add to the magnitude of the song. Included here for showing a completely different side to Jon Bon Jovi’s writing talent while still managing to rock!

7: Wild Is The Wind

It might seem like an obscure selection, but it is a tribute to the ‘B’ side of Bon Jovi’s New Jersey album, which showcased some excellent material and proved that the band didn’t deal in filler material.

While the song has a relatively simple structure (it is a Bon Jovi song, after all), there’s power and passion in the instrumentation and vocals, and some pounding drums laid down by Tico. In fairness, any of the last 6 tracks from New Jersey could have made this list.

6: Let It Rock

Built for the stadiums, this album opener featured a drawn out, gothic sounding organ intro which segued into Ritchie Sambora’s distorted guitar and a classic ‘Jovi chorus. I was completely surprised to learn that this song wasn’t released as a single. It’s up there with Livin’ On A Prayer and Wanted Dead Or Alive on the Slippery When Wet album.

5: Blood On Blood

Although Blood On Blood was never released as a single, a performance video for the song was on the New Jersey: The Videos compilation. I feel the song has much in common with Bryan Adams’ Summer Of ‘69.

It’s a fond look back at Jon’s youthful hijinx with his friends and about the bonds that they forged in those early days. The live video is especially powerful – it was shot in black and white and parts of the band and audience are highlighted in a blood red colour. There’s a point in the song where Jon and Ritchie sing together “We’re brothers”. I know it’s cheesy, but it always runs a tingle down my spine…

4: Keep The Faith

There was a point in the early 90’s when it looked like Bon Jovi was finished. The band had gone into extended hiatus after the New Jersey tour and rumors abounded that the members were barely on speaking terms. Grunge hit the scene and vaporized the thriving hard rock/hair metal market. We held our collective breath and wondered if there would be a market left for Bon Jovi when they finally returned.

We needn’t have worried, because Keep The Faith managed to show a progression in the band’s style without totally alienating their audience (hello, Def Leppard?) and without selling out to grunge. That instantly recognizable bassline and Jon’s impassioned vocals showed the world there was still life in Bon Jovi.

3: Livin’ On A Prayer

While some would argue that this is the quintessential Bon Jovi song, it gets marked down here for overexposure. Still, Livin’ On A Prayer carries the blue-collar ethic that pervaded Slippery When Wet and originally carried the group to superstardom.

The bass intro, Sambora’s talk box effect on the guitar riff and the soaring synth that raises the verses into a magnificent modern day hymn to struggle and ambition and love. The guitar solo is one of the most memorable of the era, as is the video with Jon in a harness flying over the audience, playing out his Superman fantasy.

2: Wanted Dead Or Alive

This classic acoustic rocker by Jon and Ritchie Sambora marked the genesis of Jon’s ‘cowboy period’ which would later peak when he wrote the Young Guns II soundtrack.

Wanted Dead Or Alive was the third single to be released from the Slippery… album and reached #7 on the Billboard chart.

In the main, the song features a strummed verse and chorus overlaid with a descending twelve-string motif. Throughout the second verse, Ritchie builds up to a blazing solo filled with squealing harmonics. Toward the end, Jon’s lyric equates their hectic touring schedule with a nomadic existence with the line “I’ve been everywhere, still I’m standing tall, I’ve seen a million faces, and I’ve rocked them all”.

1: Lay Your Hands On Me

Lay Your Hands was to New Jersey what Let It Rock was to Slippery When Wet. An excellent atmospheric introduction bursts into what was one of Bon Jovi’s heaviest songs of the time.

For me, Lay Your Hands was one of the defining moments of late 80’s arena rock. The promo video featured a live show and an even longer intro than the album version. At the end of the intro, Jon erupts into the middle of the stage. Sambora’s there in cowboy hat and twin neck guitar, Jon’s strutting down an overhead walkway and pyrotechnics are firing off everywhere. The whole thing rocks from start to finish.

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  1. Anonymous

    In my opinion “Livin’ On A Prayer” was the best Bon Jovi song though many of his songs are great to listen to i have almost all his songs on my iPod and on CD, But i also find that “It’s my Life” was a great song but i still have to say that “Livin’ On A Prayer” is my favourite being only 14yrs old i do not know all Bon Jovi songs but i know a fair few


  2. richiegrambo

    Been a fan for 16 years now, I have to agree that the These Days record is underrated. I think it is maybe their best work to date. The title track is great. I’m glad to see Wild is the wind on your list, that’s one of my favorites as well. I also agree that all of the last six tracks of New Jersey are great songs. A little dissapointed not to see any songs from the period after Crush. I agree that none from Bounce should be on it, but maybe some from Have A Nice Day should be considered. Who says you can’t go home, Last man standing, and Complicated for example. A few good ones from the new album as well.

    The box set has suprisingly many good songs. The radio saved my life tonight, good guys don’t always wear white, why aren’t you dead, open all night, I get a rush, rivers run dry, edge of a broken heart etc. Maybe not could enough for a list though.


    Thanks for a great list!



    1. Gerard McGarry

      Hi Richie! You know what, I’ll hold my hands up to not really listening to Bon Jovi properly after Keep The Faith.

      Would you be interested in writing a Top 10 Bon Jovi songs after Keep The Faith post? I’d love some recommendations of good Jovi songs I might have missed!

  3. Gaz@NokiaMusic

    I can’t say that I’ve ever come across someone waxing lyrical about the Jove.

    I’m impressed but I must disagree from a personal standpoint about referring to the few years before Crush album single ‘It’s My life’ as being lost in the musical wilderness. I found ‘These Days’ and ‘Keep The Faith’ to be the pinnacle of there creativity… and as someone who obsessively killed Bon Jovi in my youth, when I indulge in intermediate touchbacks on the band I can only really listen to these. When nostalgia comes a knockin’ though, ‘Wild Is The Wind’ and ‘Blood On Blood’ are choice listens indeed.

    Though disappointingly you had no mention of ‘These Days’, in all fairness you did pay tribute to the songs ‘Keep The Faith’ and ‘Dry County’ so have therefore redeemed yourself.

    Thanks for the great post!

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Thanks for the comment Gaz!

      I have to say – my experience of Bon Jovi drops off drastically after Keep The Faith. It’s always interesting to hear other recommendations though, maybe I’ll try to cover the gaps in my back catalogue someday!

      Good to hear that you love Wild Is The Wind and Blood On Blood – New Jersey is perhaps my favourite ‘Jovi album, especially the b-side tracks that are a little rougher-hewn but still excellent.

  4. Gaz@NokiaMusic

    I’ve obsessed over b-sides in recent years, I should try and track some of these down… anything in particular you recommend?

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